Month: <span>June 2021</span>

Kenneth Rexroth Appeals

Rexroth: Rapprochement of Cultures.

Featured Image: He’s an American poet. Kenneth Rexroth Street. By Beatrice Murch (blmurch), CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Kenneth Rexroth.

The Association of World Citizens participates actively in the UNESCO-led International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures (2013-2022). The rapprochement of cultures requires dialogue at many levels.  We are at a time of major change in history.  The accelerating pace of change in the political, social, economic and cultural areas;  has created new opportunities for dialogue as the world is inexorably being transformed into a global society.

It is true that to an unprecedented degree people are meeting together in congresses, conferences, schools and universities all over the globe. However; it itself such meetings are not dialogues.  There is a need to reach a deeper level.  One approach is to look at writers;  who in their work drew on more than one culture and provided a bridge for meaningful dialogue;  and the rapprochement of cultures. One such writer is Kenneth Rexroth.

Kenneth Rexroth;  an American poet often considered a father figure to the Beat poets of the 1950 San Francisco scene;  was also a world citizen who blended the influences of Japan and China, of failed revolutionary movements like the Paris Commune, the Kronstadt sailors’ revolt in Russia; along with a deep sense of the beauty of nature.  He was largely self-taught;  having dropped out of secondary school.  He read widely but was always mistrustful of academic trends in poetry.

In the late 1960s when US universities tried to calm student agitation by having courses that were “relevant” to their interests; Kenneth Rexroth taught some courses at San Francisco State College.  Nevertheless;  he had a dim view of academic teaching.

“If a college student’s mother died, his girl got pregnant, he acquired a loathsome disease, or he decided to become a conscientious objector, would he go to his philosophy professor for advice?”

Taoist and Buddhist thought.

Rexroth’s model was Walt Whitman and his Leaves of Grass.  Whitman envisions “a social order whose essence is the liberation and universalization of selfhood…participants in a universal creative effort in which each discovers his ultimate individuation…Today we know that it is Whitman’s vision or nothing.”  Like Whitman, Rexroth stressed an ethical mysticism, citing other major influences.  “For better statements I refer you to the work of Martin Buber, D.T. Suzuki, Piotr Kropotkin, or for that matter, to the Gospels and the saying of Buddha, or to Lao Tze and Chung Tze.”

His references to D.T. Suzuki; who introduced Zen thought to the USA and to the Chinese Taoists Lao Tze and Chung Tze are a sign of his affinity to Taoist and Buddhist thought. His short summery of the essence of Taoism also reflected his philosophy of life:

 

The combinations

Of the world are unstable

By nature. Take it easy.

 

But Rexroth’s Taoism had an activist tone to it. As in many of the great Chinese and Japanese poems, the outer landscape corresponds to the inner one, the macrocosm to the microcosm:

 

My wife has been swimming in the breakers,

She comes up the beach to meet me, nude

Sparkling with water, singing high and clear

Against the surf.  The sun crosses

The hills and fills her hair, as it lights

The moon and glorifies the sea

And deep in the empty mountains melts

The snow of Winter and the glaciers

Of ten thousand  years.

 

Kenneth Rexroth especially appreciates the Mahayana Buddhist ideal of the bodhisattva.

A bodhisattva, in case you don’t know, is one who, at the brink of absorption into Nirvana, turns away with the vow that he shall not enter final peace until he can bring all other beings with him. 

And Kenneth Rexroth puts into poetic structure the words of the American Socialist leader Eugene Debs;  who had spent years in prison for his opposition to World War I:

While there is a lower class,

I am in it.  While there is

A criminal element,

I am of it.  Where there is

A soul in jail, I am not free.

 

Yet Kenneth Rexroth always rejected the notion that the arts should be subordinated to political demands.  He felt that lyrics that communicate genuine personal vision;  are ultimately more subversive than explicit propaganda. He called erotic love “one of the highest forms of contemplation”;  and he stressed its intensity in a Japanese style:

Making love with you

Is like drinking sea water.

The more I drink

The thirstier I become,

Until nothing can slake my thirst

But to drink the entire sea.

 

Rexroth was always enthusiastic about ethical world-affirming mysticism; always quick to encourage the joining of contemplation and community;

What is taken in 

In comtemplation is poured out

In love.

 

Notes.

For Kenneth Rexroth’s early life until he moved to California in 1927 see his An Autobiographical Novel (New York: Doubleday, 1966)

Most of his poetry is in two collections: Collected Shorter Poems (New York: New Directions, 1966) and Collected Longer Poems (New York: New Directions, 1968)

For an analysis of his bridge-building efforts with Asian culture, see Morgan Gibson.

Revolutionary Rexroth: Poet of East-West Wisdom (Archon, 1986)

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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John Boyd Orr Rapprochement of Cultures.

John Boyd Orr: A World Citizen’s Focus on Food

Featured Image: Photo by Zen Chung on Pexels.

There can be no peace in the world;  so long as a large proportion of the population lack;  the necessities of life and believe that a change of the politicl and economic system will make them available. World peace must be based on world plenty.

Lord Boyd Orr

A specialist on food policy

John Boyd Orr (23 September 1880 – 25 June 1971) was a specialist on food policy;  an ardent Scots regionalist;  and a devoted world citizen. He was knighted in 1935 for his outstanding work on nutrition and was made a Life Peer as Baron Boyd Orr;  at the time 1950;  when he became a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.

After the First World War in which he had served as a medical doctor;  he had helped to found and then direct the Rowett Institute;  one of the world’s leading centers for the study of nutrition. He had begun his work on animal nutrition;  but then shifted to the problems of human nutrition and food supply.

John Boyd Orr

John Boyd Orr, Nobel Peace Prize 1949 By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The first Director General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

John Boyd Orr came to realize that nutrition is a question of public policies;  and is indicative of a whole social climate;  especially the differences among social classes. His study of the hungry during the 1930s, depression-era Britain Food, Health and Income was to raise the issue of hunger as a public policy challenge.

During the Second World War; John  Boyd Orr became increasingly preoccupied by the food problem at the world level. Thus he was a natural choice  to become the first Director General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO);  located in Rome.

From the start;  he proposed world structures;  that would be adequate to meet the critical food problems that faced;  not only the war-devastated countries of Europe;  but that existed at a chronic level in most of the rest of the world.

Food_and_Agriculture_Organization_(FAO)
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome. By CAPTAIN RAJU, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

The World Food Board

Boyd Orr’s plans for a World Food Board;  that would give the FAO sufficient executive powers to meet the emergency of the world food;  crisis were adopted in principle by the government experts at the first FAO Conference in 1946, in Copenhagen. The World Food Board would have had the power to buy, hold, and sell stocks of agricultural commodities. It would have helped the stabilization of agricultural prices;  by working out price ranges and in keeping famine reserves.

However; once the proposal of a World Food Board went beyond the view of the agricultural experts;  who had been largely represented at the first FAO Conference;  and fell on the desks of the political hand; , the world government aspects of the ideas were noted.

The United States and the United Kingdom frankly rejected the idea;  the USSR ignored them. (1) Faced with the impossibility of creating the structure;  he felt was absolutely necessary;  he resigned from the FAO and took up leadership in the World Citizen movements;  and to work against the start of the East-West arms race that was literally “taking food from the mouths of the poor.”

The Association of World Citizens

From his long experience with governments and their slowness;  Boyd Orr remained confident in the possibilities of the pressures of citizens of the world. He wrote ” While governments are loth to change their ideas, the people of the world have changed. They have begun to realize that a spurious nationalism supported by a contorted national history which tries to make it appear that each nation is a nation of supermen is nonsense…The hope of the world lies with those private international organizations which must create a strong and well-informed world-wide public opinion which will force governments to agree to a comprehensive world food policy.”

The Association of World Citizens has continued his efforts to create a comprehensive world food policy. In recent years, the Association has stressed in meetings at the United Nations 3 critical areas:

  1. Fostering a people-centered policy framework.
  2.  Building human and institutional capacities.
  3.  Protecting the environment.

Non-governmental organizations with consultative status with the U.N. are rising in status and influence. They are taking a “place at the table” with States in international decision-making and gaining leverage on States to embrace new norms. Lord Boyd Orr set a clear path which we try to follow.

Note

1) For a good account of Boyd Orr’s World Food Board proposal see the memoires of a later FAO Director: B.R. Sen Toward a Newer World (1992)

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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China-India Frontier Appeals

Can Track II Efforts Reduce China-India Frontier Tensions?

Featured Image: Nathu La Pass is Indo Chine Border and one of the three open trading border of India and China. Photograph has been taken during my visit to Nathu La Pass , Sikkim. By Indrajit Das, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

By René Wadlow.

In a June 24; 2020 message to the Secretary General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Mr. Vladimir Novov, the Association of World Citizens (AWC); expressed its active concern with the June 15;  death of Indian and Chinese military in the Galwan River Valley in Ladakh on the India-China frontier; and the possibility that the tensions will increase.

While there have been brief discussions among Indian and Chinese authorities to prevent escalation; there have been no real negotiations. Negotiation is a basic political decision-making process to facilitate compromise without loss of essential objectives.

 

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs said on June 25 that since early May;  the Chinese have been amassing a large contingent of troops and arms along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Also, within India;  there has been a good deal of media attention; highly critical of China; given to the events.

In addition; there have been calls for a boycott of Chinese goods; and some Chinese products have been removed from Indian shops. Both Indian and Chinese spokespersons have made references to the 1962;  war during which some 2,000 persons were killed.

The AWC believes that there is a need for prompt measures as the India-China tensions;  add to existing tensions between the USA and China; as well as boundary issues with Asian States in the South China Sea.

China-India Frontier
India China Border, Nathula, Sikkim. By Madhumita Das, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Track II.

There may be a role for “Track II” nongovernmental efforts and exchanges. Track I is official government to government diplomacy among instructed representative of States; usually diplomats from the Foreign Ministry. However; governments have a range of officials on whom to call: intelligence agencies, the military; and “friends of the President” – trusted individuals within the executive entourage.

 

Track II efforts are organized through nongovernmental organizations; and sometimes by academic institutions. Such efforts can entail informal; behind the scene communications that take place in the absence of formal communication channels. The term “Track II” was coined by the U. S. diplomat Joseph Montville in The Arrow and the Olive Branch: A Case for Track II Diplomacy.

Track II efforts have grown as there is increasing recognition that there is a tragic disjunction between the United Nations tension-reduction mandate;  and its ability to intervene in conflicts when called upon. As Adam Curle; experienced in Quaker mediation efforts has written: 

“In general governments achieve their results because they have power to influence events, including the ability to reward or to punish. Paradoxically, the strength of civilian peacemakers resides specifically in their lack of power. They are neither feared nor courted for what they can do. Instead, they are trusted and so may sometimes be enabled to play a part in peacemaking denied to most official diplomats.”

Those involved in Track II efforts must, nevertheless, have ready access to governmental decision-makers and Track I diplomats. As the World Citizen and Quaker economist Kenneth Boulding in a little verse writes:

“When Track One will not do,
We have to travel on Track Two
But for results to be abiding,
The Tracks must meet upon some siding”.

 

 

In the China-India frontier tensions;  both sides must be convinced that there is a considerable sentiment for peace among their own supporters. In this conflict;  which could slip into greater violence;  there is an understandable tendency to look for short term answers. Yet there is also a need for some involved in Track II efforts to have an over-all integrated perspective for both short as well as long-term transformation. Thus, there needs to be a “pool” of people with experience, skills and the ability to move fast when the need or the opportunity is there?

We are sure that there are groups in India and China which can rise to meet this challenge.

Prof. René Wadlow is President of the Association of World Citizens.

China-India Frontier

nathula peak,gangtok,sikkim, by Vinay.vaars, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

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U.N General Assembly Role of Non-Governemental-Organizations.

U.N. General Assembly: Can It Provide the Needed Global…

Featured Image by Basil D Soufi, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

27 Sep 2019 – The international relations specialist Stanley Hoffmann once quipped:

Goals are easy to describe. What matters more is a strategy for reaching them.” 

The United Nations through its annual debates in the General Assembly;  its special world conferences such as those devoted to the environment, population, food, women, urbanization, and within the Specialized Agencies have created goals for a world public policy in the interests of all humanity.  There are three important phases of this world public policy: formulation, implementation and evaluation.

Climate Action Summit.

Thus;  this September the UNGA began with a “Climate Action Summit” to evaluate governmental efforts to meet the challenges of climate change. Government leaders set out what they have done, or plan to do  at the national level; but they said relatively little on what they could do together.

The Climate Action Summit was followed by the policy statements of national governments: Jair Bolsonaro, Donald Trump, Recep Tajyip Erdogan, Emmanuel Macron, Hassan Rouhani, Angela Merkel, Boris Johnson, Narendra Modi and Abdel Fatth el-Sisi.    All except al Sisi came to national power through elections and not military coups.  Thus in some way;  they represent the degree of awareness of world issues and the priorities of their electors.

The question asked many years ago by the world citizen Norman Cousins.

UN General Assembly

President Trump Addresses Journalists at the UN General Assembly. By U.S. Department of State from United States, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

“Who Speaks for Man”?

To meet the major challenges of world-wide issues;  strong leadership is necessary.  Yet the avenues for leadership at the world level are difficult to trace.  Leadership at the national level is usually clearly structured in a pyramid; with the office of President at the top;  with Cabinet Ministers; the higher ranks of the military just below. 

There may be a vast informal network of influential advisors; business leaders, the press – all with leadership roles; but the formal structure of governance is hierarchical and clearly defined.   People generally expect the Prime Minister or the President to lead.  In fact; he is judged on whether or not he provides such leadership.

At the world level; there is no world government as such, and a strong leader at the national level may play little role on the world level.  What the Commission on Global Governance wrote in 1994 remains true today:

At the moment;  political caution, national concerns, short-term problems, and a certain fatigue with international causes have combined to produce a dearth of leadership on major international issues.  The very magnitude of global problems such as poverty; population or consumerism seems to have daunted potential international leaders.  And yet without courageous; long-term leadership at every level – international and national – it is impossible to create and sustain constituencies powerful and reliable enough to make an impact on problems that will determine; one way or another;  the future of the human race on this planet.”  (1)

The United Nations is the only universal organization at the world level…

Thus;  there is a need for constant leadership and direction at the world level.  There is a need to maintain and rebuild enthusiasm;  to reset the course when policies do not work out as expected;  to keep up a momentum and an enthusiasm.  The United Nations is the only universal organization at the world level;  and thus it is from within the United Nations that leadership at the world level must come.  Leaders within the U.N. system must be able to reach beyond the member governments – at times over the heads of current government office holders – to the people of the world.

There are two positions of authority in the ill-defined pyramid structure of the United Nations.  One is the Secretary-General; the other is the President of the General Assembly;  who is elected for one year at a time.  The President of the current;  74th session is Tijjani Muhammed-Bande of Nigeria.  There have been times when the head of one of the Specialized Agencies of the U.N. or the financial institutions or U.N. programs have provided leadership;  but usually on only one or two subjects.

United Nations

Flag of the United Nations (Pantone). By We moved to 8.12, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
 
 

The Secretary-General for Leadership.

Especially on the resolution of armed conflicts;  people look to the Secretary-General for leadership.  In some cases;  the Secretary-General has been able to play a central role.  As the servant of the Security Council;  the Secretary-General has been able to play a mobilizing role in times of conflict;  and political crisis in those cases when the Security Council has been unified behind a decision.  Since the chairman of the Security Council is a national diplomat and serves on a rotating basis only for one month;  he cannot play a real mobilizing role nor is he perceived as a world leader.

Some hope that the President of the U.N. General Assembly; who is in post for a full year;  could play a leadership role.  So far such hopes have not been realized in practice. It would be difficult to find many people;  who can name the last five Presidents of the General Assembly;  or to cite much of what they have done other than presiding over meetings.

Today;  with real challenges to humanity;  with a reform-minded Secretary-General,  who for a decade faced refugee issues;  we may see some of the marks of strong world leadership.

Note:

1) The Commission on Global Governance. Our Global Neighbourhood (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995)

René Wadlow is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. He is President of the Association of World Citizens, an international peace organization with consultative status with ECOSOC; the United Nations organ facilitating international cooperation and problem-solving in economic and social issues, and editor of Transnational Perspectives.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

Organización Ciudadana Appeals

Citizen Organization. A Right and a Duty.

Featured Picture: Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.

When we talk about the Citizen Organization; we immediately imagine protests in the streets, political meetings, or crowds of people demanding their rights, among others. Images of exalted people, police repression and the imminent risk of going to prison come to mind.

Of course; no sane person wants to go through these types of situations; so they prefer to take a position of indifference to injustices and social problems.

“Only the selfish live to solve their problems without caring about anyone else’s”.

Of course; many of us have taken this position at some point.

But; for how long are we going to leave our problems as a society in the hands of others?

Topics to talk about:

  1. Citizen Organization as a Fundamental Right.
  2. Citizen Organization as a Social Duty.
  3. Consequences of Violence and Crime.
  4. Citizen Organization with Clear and Well Defined Objectives.
  5. Citizen Organization with respect to the Educational Level.
  6. Citizen Organization as a Fundamental Right.

Citizen Organization as a Fundamental Right.

As citizens; we have the right to organize ourselves to carry out common goals. Right that is recognized from the universal declaration of human rights to the constitution of any Country in the world. The Citizen Organization is part of our right to freedom of expression, and wanting to play an important role in the decisions we must make as a society.

We cannot wait to react, only when the problem of my fellow human beings also becomes our problem.

This is why we must take charge of our society and thus be part of the change.

Citizen Organization as a Social Duty.

Duty is all those obligations that we have to fulfill as citizens in a society. Although citizen organization is not a primary requirement by local laws or authorities; it does not stop becoming a moral duty. Because as citizens we are union beings; and therefore we must share our ideas and opinions to generate proposals, in order to solve problems or innovate processes in our society.

Consequences of Violence and Crime.

However; as a society we have many problems of injustice and inequality  and in many cases we do nothing at all to address them. For this reason; there is a probability that sooner or later these problems will have consequences for ourselves.

It is only enough to mention the high rate of unemployment, corruption and social inequality that is registered in Latin America; and all this in turn generates serious consequences; drastically increasing Poverty and the levels of Crime and Violence that exist in the region. Directly affecting citizens without distinction of social class.

Citizen Organization with Clear and Well Defined Objectives.

It is for this reason that in the Association of Citizens of the World; we invite all citizens to commit to the problems of their society; evaluating their strengths and weaknesses with respect to the contribution they can provide to generate proposals.

A society where its citizens have the initiative to create a Citizen Organization with clear and well-defined objectives;  becomes proactive citizens, capable of demanding that their leaders comply with the established objectives; in turn contributing to the decrease of the indices of corruption and social inequality; because they become an entity of social control.

Citizen Organization with respect to the Educational Level.

Undoubtedly; one of the most important aspects that these organizations focus on is the constant improvement of quality in the educational system; because a society that has education is capable of generating citizens; who direct their efforts to the research; this in order to carry out effective contributions to solve the problems of your community.

Creating an environment conducive to promoting Citizen Participation, the right to belong and the firm belief that only together can the important changes that society needs be promoted.

“Only the Citizen Organization is capable of preventing and solving the problems of its society”.

Today more than ever, society needs us. As citizens we have the right and the duty to focus all our efforts, in order to guarantee a more dignified and just life for all human beings.

Reflections of Elio Pinto.

“Just one more citizen of this world, and this should be enough”.

 

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William Butler Yeats Portraits of World Citizens.

William Butler Yeats: A Road to the Higher Self.

Featured Picture: J.E. Walkowitz, CC BY-SA 3.0 <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>, via Wikimedia Commons

William Butler Yeats; whose birth anniversary we mark on 13 June, had three inter-related passions: a revival of Irish culture as a necessary contribution to political independence; an understanding of present disorders and violence as part of a transition to a New Age and a new system of values: a need to find avenues for self-development leading to a Higher Self.

It was as a poet of The Celtic Twilight (1893)  stressing the need to revive an understanding of Irish folk culture; largely pagan rather than Roman Catholic that he came to public attention.  With the creation of the Abbey Theatre with Lady Gregorry; he tried to bring this conception of Irish culture to a wider public, which did not fully understand the use of symbols and symbolic personalities. Yet Yeats was convinced that a cultural renewal was necessary for a solid base for political independence.

 

William Butler Yeats
Portrait of William Butler Yeats: Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Those working for political independence were willing to use less symbolic means and were more related to Roman Catholic than Celtic mysticism.  In Easter Week 1916; hoping that British troops were occupied elsewhere, Padraig Pearse believing that “one man can free a people as one Man redeemed the world” led a couple of thousand poorly armed men to take over municipal buildings in Dublin.  The British troops struck back; and the leaders were summarily executed. The British over-reaction turned the Dublin events into nationalist mythology. Yeats “Easter 1916” celebrated a world of heroism and sacrifice:

Now and in time to be
            Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.”

After the independence of Ireland; Yeats became a senator in December 1922 and received the Nobel Prize for Literature the same year.  He left the Senate in 1928 and remained largely detached from electoral politics until his death in 1939.

Yeats’ concern with historical cycles as in his often cited poem “Second Coming” is highlighted in an earlier Ovi article. (1). Here we will look at the idea of the Higher Self and Yeats’ approach to self development.

Yeats when in London as a young man was part of the inner circle of the Theosophical Society; which gathered around Madame Blavatsky, the co-founder and intellectual  guide of the Society.  It is from Madame Blavatsky that grew Yeats’ interest  in historic, astrologically-focused cultural cycles; the on-going transition from the Piscean Period to the Age of Aquarius.

  It is also from the Theosophical circle that Yeats came to know and appreciate The Upanishads and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.  While the Theosophical Society stressed that there were persons, known as The Masters; who had developed a Higher Self and great spiritual knowledge; the Society did not set out a clear path for individual development and spiritual growth.  Each individual Theosophist was free to follow his own path.   There were no set exercises for growth as there are degrees in the Masonic movement.

The Higher Self.

Thus Yeats turned to the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn for techniques and rituals that were to lead, one step at a time, to higher consciousness.  The Golden Dawn used the term “the Higher Self” as the goal to be reached. Man must be “awakened” to the Higher Self. From the late 1880s until about 1910 Yeats was heavily involved in his efforts of self-development based on an effort to understand what he called “the depths” of the mind – what today; we would call the sub-conscious and the unconscious. In these depths, there is the individual’s most genuine uniqueness. 

 However; for Yeats there was also what C.G. Jung called “the collective unconscious” – a deeper level of connection with other people and with a culture.

A guide was necessary to reach and then understand this collective unconscious.  This guide in the Golden Dawn was called an adept.  In the Golden Dawn; the adept had a duty to help others.  As Yeats wrote “The adept has been sent to break down the walls that divide people from one another and to the fountain of life and not to build new walls.”

However; there are many tasks before one reaches the stage of an adept. 

 “It is by sorrow and labour, by love of all living things, and by a heart that humbles itself before the Ansestral Light, and by a mind whose power and beauty and quiet flow though without end, that men come to Adeptship, and not by the multiplication of petty formulae”.

Yet the Golden Dawn itself got bogged down in petty formulae and rituals. The Golden Dawn at the time that Yeats was initiated in 1892, was led by MacGregor Mathers.  Mathers  was some 10 years older than Yeats and had been on the edges of the Theosophical circle in London when Yeats was most active there. 

 Mathers’ books were known by the Theosophists: The Kabbala Unveiled (1887), The Tarot (1888), The Key of Solomon the king (1889). Mathers was something of a spiritual dictator, and some members of the Golden Dawn rebelled, especially Alester Crowley who went on to form his own order.

MacGregor Mathers moved to Paris, his wife being the sister of the philosopher Henri Bergson. Mathers died in 1918.  In “All Souls’ Night” which Yeats wrote in 1920, he summed up Lathers’ character:

And I call up MacGregor from the grave,
          For in my first hard springtime, we were friends,
Although of late estranged
I thought him half a lunatic, half knave,
And told him so, but friendship never ends.

After leaving the Golden Dawn, Yeats followed the path to the Higher Self through reflection on his actions and his thoughts outside any group.  Some of his insights are reflected in his poems and in autobiographic writings, but he never fully set out how far on the path he had reached.

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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Gaza Economy Appeals

Ecologically-sound Gaza Development Programme.

Featured Picture: Photo by hosny salah in Pixabay

Jerusalem-Gaza 2021, An Effort is Needed For An Ecologically-sound Gaza Development Programme.

In early May 2021, Palestinians protesting the pending eviction of six  famlies from their home in East Jerusalem clashed with Israeli police.  For many Palestinians the eviction cases evoked a long history  of dispossesion.  Hamas, from its positions in the Gaza Strip, warned that it would “not stand idly by.” On 10 May, Hamas forces fired a fusillade of rockets and missils at Israeli villages and cities.  The Israeli Defense Forces responded with strikes on Gaza, inaugurating a conflict of depressing familiar dimentions after similar clashes in 2009, 2012, 2014.  After 11 days of destruction and loss of life and behind-the-scenes mediation by Egyptian diplomats, a ceasefire was declared. 

It is difficult to predict the political future of Gaza both in terms of relations between Hamas and Fatah as well as the future relations with Israel and Egypt.  What is certain is the Israel-Gaza conflict and the long embargos by Israel and Egypt for different national reasons have crippled and in some cases destroyed the manufacturing and agricultural sectors of the Gaza Strip;  where some one and a half million people depend on imports for most basic goods and on exports for livelihood.  The economic and social situation in Gaza distorts the lives of many with high unemployment, poor health facilities, and a lack of basic supplies.

Men take great decisions only when crisis stares them in the face.

As the political situation is so uncertain, it is important not to rule out in advance political and economic proposals even if at first sight, such proposals seem unlikely to be able to be put into practice. As Jean Monnet, one of the fathers of the European Common Market had said “Men take great decisions only when crisis stares them in the face.”  Just as the first steps of the European Common Market had to overcome the deep wounds of the Second World War, so in the situation of Gaza, there is a need to break strong psychological barriers with cooperative economic measures.

One possibility for socio-economic recovery of Gaza would be a trans-national economic effort that would bring together energy, knowledge and money from Gaza, Israel, the West Bank and Egypt, creating conditions which would facilitate the entry of other investors.

A Corporation clothed with the power of Government but possessed of the flexibility and initiative of a private enterprise.

TVA

TVA Logo: U.S. Government, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

A possible model is the trans-state efforts of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) of the US New Deal.  The TVA was a path-making measure to overcome the deep economic depression of the 1930s in the USA.  In May 1933, the Roosevelt administration and the Congress created the TVA.  In his message to Congress, Roosevelt suggested that the Authority should be a: 

“corporation clothed with the power of Government but possessed of the flexibility and initiative of a private enterprise.  It should be charged with the broadest duty of planning for the proper use, conservation and development of the natural resources of the Tennessee River drainage basin and its adjoining territory for the general social and economic welfare of the Nation…This in a true sense is a return to the spirit and vision of the pioneer.  If we are successful here, we can march on, step by step, in the development of other great natural territorial units.”

The central idea back of the TVA was that it should do many things, all connected with each other by the concrete realities of a damaged river full of damaged people.  To do all these activities well, it had to be a public corporation: public, because it served the public interest and a corporation rather than a government department, so that it could initiate the flexible responsible management of a well-run private corporation. 

Tennessee Valley Authority TVA

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Picture: Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

As Stringfellow Barr wrote in Citizens of the World:

“The great triumph of the TVA was not the building of the great dams.  Great dams had been built before. Its greatest triumph was that it not only taught the Valley people but insisted on learning from them too.  It placed its vast technical knowledge in the pot with the human wisdom, the local experience, the courage, and the hopes of the Valley people, and sought solutions which neither the Valley folk nor the TVA technicians could ever have found alone.  It respected persons.”

Only a New Deal is likely to break the cycle of violence and counter-violence.

The Gaza strip is not one of the great natural territorial units of the world, and respect for persons has been in short supply.  However, only a New Deal is likely to break the cycle of violence and counter-violence.  A Gaza Development Authority, an independent socio-economic corporation devoted to multi-sector and trans-national planning and administration  would be an important start in a new deal of the cards.  Such a Gaza Development Authority would obviously have Hamas members; but also persons chosen for their expertise as well as persons from community organizations.

Strong socio-economic structures are needed which can hold during periods of inevitable future tensions. A Gaza Development Authority can be a framework for such strong measures of cooperative effort.

 

Rene Wadlow, President Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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Ecosystem Restoration Education of World Citizenships.

UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration: An Alliance for Action.

Featured Picture: Photo by Max Böttinger on Unsplash.

On World Environment Day, 5 June 2021, begins the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030..  An ecosystem is the interaction between people, plants, animals, and their surroundings. The UN Environment Programme and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization are the lead UN agencies for this Decade.  However, the Decade aims to become a broad-based global movement in which many can play a rôle.

Today, many ecosystems are under stress and facing degradation.  There is forest loss, and trees are not replanted.  Wetlands are filled by soil carried by water.  In some farmlands, there can be excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides.  There can be over-grazing by pastoralists.  Urban growth can take up ever-larger space.  Each ecosystem must be studied at the local level.  The stress studied and the remedial actions analysed both at the local level and at the level of the broader region.

The former ecosystem are no longer appropriate or possible in the new setting.

In this great effort for ecologically-wise use of land, there is a rôle for many persons as a vast range of actions are needed. Individual actions can have a wider impact by bringing people together in new alliances for action – in planting trees, in creating community gardens, in clearing and disposing of trash.

Working on ecosystem restoration must take into account the movement of people due to changes in the climate, to violence and to different economic factors.  When people move, they change their relationship to their setting.  Ways of living that were established in the former ecosystem are no longer appropriate or possible in the new setting.  It is very likely that the number of people on the move to new  areas will increase both within a country and across national frontiers.

As Citizens of the World, we need to develop awareness of the changes under way which announce the creation of a world society.  We all face important choices as we move forward with structures of cooperation and integration. The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration provides a vital focus for common action.

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

The Goddess of Democracy Education of World Citizenships.

The Goddess of Democracy: 4 June 1989.

Featured Picture: WroclawPoland: the memorial of 10th anniversary (1999) of Tian’anmen Sq. (BeijingChina) massacre, June 4th, 1989 The first version of this memorial was “erected” by Polish students a day after the massacre, June 5th 1989 – as a destroyed bicycle and a fragment of tank-track lying nearby. The version in the photograph was erected ten years later, in 1999, and the symbolism is identical: bicycles against tanks… Photo by Julo, Public domain.

The uprising of Chinese students, soon joined by workers, peasants, and those who called themselves shimin (citizens) started a new era of « reform from below » with the symbol of the Goddess of Democracy. Students from colleges and universities in China’s capital initiated protests after the death on 15 April 1989 of the former General Secretary of the Communist Party, the reformist Hu Yaobang. The movement then spread over a number of weeks to other major cities such as Chengdu, Xian and Changsha.

The students made numerous demands for reforms : among them were calls for an end to corruption in government, increased funding for education, greater freedom of expression, and increased democratic participation in decision-making which was already being put into practice within student organizations. On 4 May 1989, these student-led demands were structured into a written text and read out in Tiananmen Square. Intellectuals approved of the text and made the demands of reform their own.

We have made this statue as a memorial to democracy.

The protests took place against the background of a meeting between the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and the Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping putting an end to a 33-year freeze in Sino-Soviet relations. However, the visit of Gorbachev recalled to Chinese leaders the deep changes underway in the USSR as well as in Eastern Europe, formerly under Soviet influence.

There were fears within the Chinese ruling circle that such changes might be possible in China due to uncontolled demands from below. There were strong debates between hard-liners and reformers within the leadership as to how to handle the student protests. There were many foreign journalists in Beijing to cover the arrival of Mikhail Gorbachev and so the student protests were becoming front-page news in many parts of the world.

On 20 May 1989, martial law was declared giving the government greater legal right to act against protesters. Arrests started being made. The students responded with greater determination, and protesters from other parts of China joined those on Tiananmen Square.

On 29 May, during the night, students from the Central Academy of Fine Arts assembled a 37 foot-high Goddess of Democracy built in two days of plaster and styrfoam. As the statue was unvailed, a student announcement was made « We have made this statue as a memorial to democracy. »

The Goddess of Democracy

Replica of the statue “Goddess of Democracy” from the Tiananmen square protests in 1989. Photo taken in Victoria Park, Hong Kong, during the commemoration event for the 21st anniversary of the massacre.
Photo by MarsmanRom & Isa Ng, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Goddess of Democracy has not been rebuilt.

A Goddess of Democracy whose face was at the same level as the portrait of Mao Zedong was too much for the hard-liners. On the afternoon of 3 June, soldiers started moving into the Square, smashing student barricades. An unknown number of Beijing protesters were killed, succumbing to gunshots or crushed by tanks and armored personnel carriers. More are wounded. « Counter-revolutionary rebellion is now taking place. They aim to overthrow the People’s Republic of China » announced a government broadcast.

At 2 A.M. On 4 June, military transport trucks entered the Square. At 4 A.M. the Goddess of Democracy is toppled by a tank. By mid-morning, the Square is emptied of protesters. Hope for student-led democratic reforms is set aside. On 5 June, a lone man stopped a tank convoy heading for an empty Tiananmen Square along an empty Chang’an Avenue, a vivid image of the power of nonviolence in the face of military threats.

Since 1989, political and economic policy has been set by the political leadership. There have been shifts in policy, many of which have increased economic conditions. These reforms, however, were not articulated by groups of citizens. The Goddess of Democracy has not been rebuilt.

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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Albert Luthuli Book Reviews

Robert Trent Vinson. Albert Luthuli.

Featured Picture: JRamatsui, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

(Athens, OH:  Ohio University Press, 2018)

As Robert Vinson highlights “When Albert Luthuli;  president of the African National Congress (ANC).  South Africa’s leading anti apartheid organization;  became the first African-born recipe ant of the Nobel Peace Prize in December 1961;  the world celebrated his advocacy of nonviolent civil disobedience.  The prize signaled international recognition for his Gandhian strategy to end apartheid;  South Africa’s disastrous white supremist political policy of racial subordination;  and separation and connected South Africa’s antiapartheid struggle to the growing global human rights campaigns. 

It propelled Luthuli to global celebrity and raised the profile of the ANC;  which he had led since 1952. The ANC would survive lethal state repression in the late 1960s;   and throughout two ensuing decades.  As a mass organization, it articulated a broad;  inclusive African nationalism and led the Congress Alliance, a multiracial; milti-ideological antiapartheid coalition that shared Luthuli’s vision of a nonracial, democratic, equitable South Africa.

Albert Lutuli

Albert Luthuli: Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

A  Vision of Universal Love and Christian-Based Activism.

Both Albert Luthuli and Martin Luther King shared a vision of universal love and Christian-based activism;  against the moral evil of racism. Yet for both men;  there were followers for whom nonviolence  was a technique that could be set aside;  if violence produced better or faster results. On the night of 13 December;  1961 as Luthuli and his wife returned to South Africa after his Nobel address;  a new formation of ANC members created a new group;  Spear of the Nation;  set off explosive charges that marked the start of what for some became an armed struggle.

Albert Luthuli (1898 – 1967 );  was the son of a Protestant minister;  but who died when Albert was six months old.  He was brought up by the family of his mother;  which held responsible position in the Christian Zulu milieu.  He did his higher studies to become a teacher and a trainer of teachers. He was active in the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA);  and made life-long friends in the Christian activist milieu.

A Positive Model of Multiracial Democracy.

In 1948;  the unexpected victory of the National Party made apartheid official state policy.  In June 1948;  Luthuli traveled to the United States for seven months;  speaking to churches, civic groups and others.  He returned to South Africa;  hoping that African Americans would triumph over segregation laws;  and that the U.S.  would become a positive model of multiracial democracy.  

Luthuli  became a national political figure during the 1952;  Defiance Campaign based on Gandhi’s active nonviolence.  Yet escalating State violence marked the 1950s.  Younger militants willing to consider armed “self-defense” surged to the fore.

By the mod-1960s;  the balance between a nonviolent strategy and a willingness to use force;  had shifted in favor of the use of violence.  However;  on 25 February 1990;  two weeks after his liberty was restored;  Nelson Mandela addresses a mass rally in Durban;  hoping to stem the rising tide of violence between the ANC  supporters;  and the rival Inkatha Freedom Party led by Mangosu Buthelazi. Speaking of a united South Africa;  Mandela invoked Lutjuli’s prophetic words:

I personally believe that here in South Africa with our own diversities of color and race, we will show the world a new pattern for democracy.”

It is important today to recall the quality of Luthuli’s leadership;  his services to the disposseded  and his collaborative leadership style.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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